Selling a Home

IDX Broker, Broker Reciprocity and Syndication

IDX Brokers, Broker Reciprocity and Syndication

IDX Broker, Broker Reciprocity and Syndication - PinterestAn “IDX Broker” is a real estate professional that participates in the worlds largest real estate marketing network. “Broker Reciprocity” is the key to making this network successful.

In all fairness, it’s also the name of a service that distributes listing data to Brokers and real estate portals.

To understand how this complex network operates, we need to look back to the days when real estate print advertising was King!

Before the internet, real estate agents used print advertising to market their listings. This involved putting together ads for print media like newspapers and home magazines.

Print ads were expensive and putting them together took a lot of time. This resulted in agents making choices about which publications were most effective.

Another challenge of print advertising was the home sellers themselves. Home sellers expect aggressive marketing, the wider the reach the better. Home Sellers expected Agents to advertise in as many different publications as possible.

Print advertising was also frustrating because of the time it took to go from printing to the shelf. In most cases, it took weeks to get the magazines into the reader’s hands. This often meant the homes were under contract and were no longer for sale.

The Internet Created the IDX Broker

IDX Broker, Broker Reciprocity and SyndicationThe internet has changed the entire real estate advertising landscape. Agents can now advertise their listings to tens of thousands of websites globally.

The amazing thing is that this all takes place in minutes or hours, not days and weeks. The reliability of the data improved as well.

This dissemination happens because of a complex system of syndication and distribution channels.

The system was set up by the Real Estate industry itself. Local MLS’s and The “National Association of Realtors” established this system.

There are two types of end users that use this data. First, there are the large real estate portals like Realtor.com & Zillow. The second group consists of individual cooperation IDX or Broker Reciprocity websites.

It all starts with the MLS (Multiple Listing Service). When an agent lists a property for sale, they have the option to syndicate that listing. If they choose yes, it becomes part of the feed. This simple act has become one of the most important aspects of the Steps to Selling a House.

Syndication

Syndication is the term used to describe the listing data sent to the big real estate portals. This would be sites like realtor.com, Zillow.com, homes.com and many more.

Think about syndication as a modern version of the old print advertising model. Instead of compiling and distributing ads for print magazines, it’s done online.

The other problem this system fixed was the scope of distribution. The home seller is now happy that their home is on every real estate website. The agent no longer has to choose where to advertise the property based on budget.

Broker Reciprocity or IDX

The second type of listing distribution method is IDX or Internet Data Exchange.

This method is often referred to as Broker Reciprocity. This is, in fact, a great description of how this concept works. Reciprocity is “The practice of exchanging things with others for mutual benefit”.

IDX Broker, Broker Reciprocity and SyndicationIDX is a listing data feed that gets distributed only to participating brokers. This arrangement allows participants to display other Brokers listings on own website.

There are strict rules about how the data must appear. But IDX allows Brokers and Agents to provide rich listing data to their clients.

One of the rules of IDX is that participants cannot opt out of which Broker sites their listings appear on. This rule ensures a level playing field for participants. Additionally, this provides the broadest advertising reach for all listings.

IDX allows the smaller real estate companies to provide the same listing data as the big portals. These smaller websites can’t go toe to toe with the massive portals like Zillow and Realtor. But having the same listing data gives them an opportunity to compete in different ways.

Agents have the advantage of being local and having local knowledge. Smart agents use local neighborhood information around the IDX data.

These agents provide connections between the IDX data and life in these neighborhoods. This is something the big portals can’t do…yet!

Here are some examples of Broker Reciprocity in action. These sites are from IDX Brokers around the nation:

Real Estate Portals

The biggest of the real estate websites are often called portals. These sites are a rich source of real estate information. This includes sites like Realtor.com, Zillow.com, and Trulia.com.

Information on available Homes For Sale is the primary attraction of these sites. Like the IDX Brokers, Real Estate portals receive their data from local MLS syndication feeds as well. The Portals also have strict rules about how they can use this data.

The portals are commercial websites, they make money in many different ways. Some sell advertising, while many make money by selling leads to Real Estate agents. To get these leads, the consumer has to see these portals as authoritative and trustworthy. This means the data on these sites must be accurate. But accuracy is difficult to achieve in a fluid market, like residential real estate.

Evolution of The Data Feed

In the early days of syndication, the data on the portals was unreliable. Consumers complained that homes on these sites were often under contract or sold.

The problem with real estate data is that listings come and go on a daily and sometimes hourly basis. The original listing data feed came in full datasets. This required the sites to rebuild their databases daily to purge old data and stay current. These rebuilds took a long time and in the process, the status of a property could change.

A home, the potential buyer saw on a portal as available, could be under contract or off the market. The listing agent always needed to confirm the true status of the property for the consumer. Contacting the agent was usually what the consumer was trying to avoid in the first place.

Birth of RETS (Real Estate Transaction Standard)

The real estate industry understood this needed to improve. So, in 1999 The National Association of Realtors launched RETS. RETS is a data framework used by the real estate industry to help with the exchange of real estate data.

RETS was a more dynamic platform designed for real estate data. It allowed for faster synchronization not a complete replacement of the listing data. This allowed both Brokers and Portals to refresh data throughout the day.

Full implementation of RETS was slow and this had a lot to do with the MLS systems themselves. MLS’s contract with big data systems providers. Much of what the MLS can do depends on their vendor’s capabilities. These vendors were slow to follow the RETS standards which affected the MLS systems as well.

NAR finally required the MLS’s make RETS available by the end of 2009. It wasn’t until 2011 that we saw industry-wide adherence to RETS.

RETS was a significant improvement over the early methods of listing data syndication. But, with any good technology comes revisions and improvements and that’s what’s next.

The Sunsets on RETS

In 2018, Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO) announced it plans to retire RETS. RESO Web API will be the new standard moving forward. According to RESO, “Web API” will move the real estate industry deeper into mobile and social applications.

The Web API will make its data calls in real time, this will make the listing data more accurate and reliable.

Mobile has become an essential tool for home buyers, it makes sense to focus efforts on this platform.

Syndication and Your Home

How does all this affect the homeowner? Well, in a very good way, especially if you can stand out.

In the days of print, the widest coverage went to the agent that spent the most on advertising. Syndication allows the listing agent to advertise on thousands of sites. Remember we are talking about the portals and IDX or Broker Reciprocity sites as well.

With so much listing data available to homebuyers, your home must stand out. This means, professional photos, video or virtual tour. It also helps to have the home staged before photos.

IDX Broker, Broker Reciprocity and Syndication

Make Sure You Get Syndicated

Syndication is the new standard in the real estate industry for marketing listings. The process of getting your listing into syndication is actually quite easy. But, there are agents that don’t take part in this remarkable system.

Lack of participation is usually due to confusion about how the system works or how to get connected. If you are selling your house, make sure your realtor’s marketing includes syndication.

Getting involved is actually easy. Most MLS’s offer syndication as an option at the time and agent inputs a listing. In most cases, it’s as simple as checking a box. This method gets the listing into the system at a minimal presence.

The various portals have options and upgrades to enhance the status on their site. This requires contracting with each portal and of course paying more money. In some cases, this is a valuable upgrade. But, serious buyers are going to search out the best listings on each portal. Great photographs, video, and virtual tours seem to matter more than enhanced status.

Optimizing Your Exposure

There are close to 100 portals, and many of these portals have extended networks with 100’s of subsites. Keeping track of where to send your listing data can be daunting.

There are portals that specialize in unique property types. Catering to niche property types like farm and ranch, waterfront, income and more.

We have found that for us, the best way to stay on top of listing syndication is to use a tool like Listhub. Listhub is a syndication tool for the most popular real estate portals in the world.

The listing agent chooses the portals they want to receive their listing data. Turning on or off the feed based on whatever criteria are important to that particular agent.

Keeping track of what property goes where can be overwhelming. Trying to keep track of usernames, passwords, image sizes and more is a big job. Listhub is a tool we use that handles this for us.

Developed by “The Threewide Corporation”, Listhub launched in 2006. This was during the developmental stage of the RETS standard.

Move, Inc, the owners of Realtor.com acquired Listhub in 2010. This made Listhub the syndication tool for one of the largest real estate portals in the world. This is a company that understands syndication.

Some MLS’s Step Away From Syndication

There is a growing trend among MLS organizations to end syndication feeds. They say this decision is about giving Brokers the freedom to choose where their listings go.

As I mentioned earlier, the choice to syndicate a listing is as simple as checking a box. So opting out of syndication is a simple task for a Broker, un-check box. So, the choice argument seems weak.

If the purpose is to target only certain portals of the Brokers choosing, ListHub does a great job at that. So, eliminating that option makes no sense either. In truth, there are a host of opinions and reasons about this move away from MLS syndication.

The popular opinion is that big brokerages are squeezing the smaller companies.

Zillow is the biggest portal and they allow direct listing data feeds from big companies. These XML data feeds are expensive to set up and the company needs a lot of listings to qualify.

Smaller brokerages can’t afford the setup and rarely have enough listings to qualify. Since most home sellers demand their listing appear on Zillow, this puts the small company in a jam.

Eliminating the MLS syndication option appears to create an advantage for bigger companies.

If you’re asking yourself how this happens, it’s pretty simple. MLS Boards have directors and these directors are often members of big companies. This is a function of size, bigger companies have more agents, thus more interest in MLS politics. The attitude towards syndication is, I get it through my company, so let’s pull the plug. This saves money and enhances the status of big companies.

This is unfortunate for smaller brokerages but not catastrophic. If MLS’s step away from portal syndication, opportunities open up for other entities. There are a growing number of paths into the real estate portals.

Ancillary service providers like Website and IDX vendors can generate the XML feed. These companies send their clients listings to the portals eliminating the issue.

This works because the vendors have a financial motivation to help their clients. Smaller brokerages can sign up for the service and syndication becomes a bonus.

 

Popular Real Estate Portals

This is important because home sellers want their listings on the “Good Portals”.

This brings up the question, “what makes a portal good? The answer to this question depends on who you ask. Home sellers tend to look for the widest net possible and the most visible. Realtors generally prefer to focus on the most effective portals in the space.

These are the portals that present the property in the best possible light and get the best results.

Of course, there are a few portals that are without a doubt required. We’re talking about the “Top 5” Zillow, Realtor.com, Trulia, Redfin and Homes.com

These five sites receive the lion’s share of traffic in the real estate space. If your home is on the market you need to have it on these fives sites.

IDX BrokerInformation provided by SimilarWeb.com.

This chart illustrates why it is important to have your for sale property on these sites. These sites are step one for home buyers in the steps to buying a house.

Inclusion here gets your home noticed and if it looks good, on the shortlist. Once a buyer puts a home on the shortlist, they tend to start more in-depth research on other sites. It’s during this research they start to reach out to Realtors for help.

This is the point buyers start to schedule private showings. Showings lead to offers, contracts, and closings. This process wouldn’t exist without the wide net of Broker Reciprocity and Syndication.

If you’re selling your home choose a broker that understands syndication and IDX. You should look for someone that has a good understanding of where your listing will go and how it gets there. You don’t want to hear, “Oh my office handles that”.

IDX and Broker Reciprocity constitute a powerful network for listing agents. Make sure you are using this tool effectively.

The Benefits of Selling Your Home in the Winter

The Benefits of Selling Your Home in the Winter

The Benefits of Selling Your Home in the WinterMost wouldn’t consider – or even think about – “selling a house in winter”. It’s too cold. There aren’t many people buying. Plus, who wants to move in the middle of a snowstorm? Exactly.

But surprisingly, winter has the potential to be a great time to sell your home. Selling your home in the winter is underestimated. Let us explain The Benefits of Selling Your Home in the Winter.

1. Winter Buyers Are Serious and Motivated

The winter months filter out those wishy-washy-view-only prospects. You know those people. They might be interested, but they really aren’t sure. They don’t know what they want, so they’re just “looking,” You don’t get these people in the winter months.

Buyers in the winter months are serious, motivated, and ready to buy. Often, it’s because they have to. Maybe their current living situation abruptly changed or they had to move for a new job – whatever the case may be, they mean business. Their hunt for a new home is frequently urgent. They also may be pining after those tax breaks before the year ends.

2. January is Huge for Job Relocation

With the year-end comes a huge amount of people relocating for new jobs or positions. Consequently, they will need somewhere to live. Your home could be that place! Again, it comes back to more serious and motivated buyers. They need a place to live and are likely in some kind of temporary hotel room or housing until they find a place – which can be rough. They want to find a new home. And they likely want to find it as soon as possible.

3. Some Houses Show Better in the Winter

It’s true! If you aren’t great at keeping up with the summer maintenance of your yard, selling in the winter might be for you. With the snow, the only thing you have to worry about is shoveling and salting the driveway and walkways.

It’s further a great time to show off your heating system. Make your home look as cozy as possible. Show off how well it functions and how well it insulates during those cooler winter months. This will be a big bonus and big draw for potential buyers.

The Benefits of Selling Your Home in the Winter

4. You’ll Get Closer to Your Asking Price

Again, these buyers are more serious and are more urgent – which increases your chances of getting closer to your asking price. There aren’t that many options out there. The market inventory is much less. People can’t take as many risks when putting in an offer. And you’re more likely to actually get an offer on your home – whereas, during the competitive summer months, you could go the whole season without a single offer. Not ideal.

5. Fewer Homes on the Market = Less Competition

There are fewer people selling homes in the winter. Most people prime their homes and get ready to sell in the summer. And in the summer, the market is saturated. Potential buyers have possibly 30 plus homes to choose from. Yet, in the winter months, they might have only 5. Fewer options mean you have less competition. In fact, the inventory of homes falls almost 20% in some places during the fall to winter transition. It bumps up your chances of selling (And again, you’re more likely to get that price you want for your house).

6. You’ll Be Your Real Estate Agent’s Top Priority

In the summer months, your real estate agent might be stretched thin. Maybe it’s tough getting an appointment or perhaps you just don’t feel like your home is getting enough attention. This isn’t a problem in the winter.

Winter is technically their slow season. Real estate agents are looking for homes to sell. This means they’ll want to sell yours in the winter. Come summer, they’ll be loaded down with a bunch of clients. Right now, you’re their top priority. You’ll get more attention – meaning your home will be listed in all the right places. And it will definitely be showcased the best and right way.

So, What Are Some Tips for Selling Your Home in the Winter?

How can you make the most out of these winter benefits? We’ve got you!

Make Your Home Warm and Inviting – The outside is cold and a tad dreary most of the winter. The best way to show off your home is by making it cozy, warm, and welcoming. Make sure your home’s temperature is set to an ideal spot so that your potential buyers warm up as soon as they step inside.

If you have a fireplace, turn it on. If you have throw blankets or pillows, put them on display. It will make your home a welcoming sight when coming in from the cold outdoors.

Play Up the Natural Lighting

Winter means darker days – literally. There are fewer daylight hours. So, what do you do? Time your viewings and showings appropriately. Don’t have them scheduled any later than 4 in the afternoon. By 4:30, the sun is down and out. Another tip? Wash your windows before viewings. It can amp up the natural lighting in your home making it more appealing for potential buyers.

Don’t Forget to Shovel and Lay Down Salt – If someone coming to view your house slips on the way in, trust us – that’s likely all they will remember from your home. It’s not a great first impression, is it? Make sure to leave a spot by the door for them to take off their winter boots – rubber mats are great for this!

Clean, Clean, Clean! – Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you shouldn’t clean up and de-personalize your house. There’s no bigger turn-off than a messy house. And putting away your personal items allows the potential buyer to imagine themselves living in the space.

The Benefits of Selling Your Home in the WinterCareful with Scents – You want your home to smell nice. Yet, you don’t want your potential buyers sneezing or turned off by the smell during the whole viewing. Go for fresh scents or light holidays scents. Also, if you’re going to make your home smell like freshly baked cookies, make sure you have some! This can score huge brownie points with some people.

So, go ahead – sell your home in the winter! You have nothing to lose. And it could really improve your chances of selling your home. You have less competition and more serious buyers. So why not? Talk to a local real estate agent in your area today for more info!

Here are some additional resources on Selling a House in Winter.

This post was contributed by Kurtis Forster. Kurtis is a real estate agent for Team Forster in London, Ontario, Canada. He brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise about buying and selling real estate.

Staging a Home for Quick Sale

Staging a Home for Quick Sale

When it comes to selling your home, naturally you’ll want to ensure that you sell it within a reasonable timeframe – and for the best price possible. Staging a home for quick sale can be an effective tool to attract as many home buyers as possible.

While the market is the main factor that will dictate the price and the timeframe in which you’re able to sell the property, there’s something else that you can do to help give your home a significant competitive edge.

Introducing: staging –something that you’ve undoubtedly heard about or seen in design magazines –and a strategy that many sellers today are employing as an additional set of steps to selling a house.

The truth is prospective buyers will form an opinion on your house within seconds of entering your home, so it’s vital to ensure that you make a good first impression when selling.

This is where home staging comes in.

Staging: What is It?

The real estate market is always fluctuating; sometimes favoring sellers, sometimes buyers –but no matter what the market, there’s always competition for buyers.

The showing of a home should impress the potential buyer right away, and ideally, should create the vision of a comfortable, efficient, enhanced lifestyle that will come along with living in that home. If a buyer feels that a home will enhance their life, it will become very attractive –something that home staging can help to facilitate.

In short? Home staging is the process of casting a home in the most attractive light in order to facilitate a quick sale, for the best possible price.

A stager will use decorative flair and knowledge of potential buyers’ needs and desires to increase the likelihood of a positive impact on those who view the home. This involves a keen knowledge of different demographics, as well as an eye for style and a flair for making homes look good.

Staging a Home for Quick Sale Before Living RoomStaging a Home for Quick Sale After Living Room

Staging a Home for Quick Sale: How Does It Work?

In countless cases, staging has proven to be effective –whether a home is occupied or vacant.

As Colorado Springs Home Stager Megan Stackhouse observed, “It’s important to understand that buyers are not only comparing your home to others they have seen but to what they see on home improvement programs like they see on HGTV.”

“Younger homebuyers are more in tune with design trends because they see them everywhere online,” Stackhouse says.

In other words, there is a lot of competition out there for buyers and staging will give a better chance for a quick, top-dollar sale.

The National Association of Realtors 2017 Profile of Home Staging shows staging to be quite effective, with 77% of buyers’ agents stating that staging a home made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home. Additionally, 40% of buyers were more willing to walk through a home they saw online. Importantly, this study also found that 38% of the time, buyers’ agents identified staging as having a positive impact on the home value if the home was decorated to the buyer’s taste.

staging a home for quick sale

Generally, a stager will work to ensure that the home has a light and open look. This often involves removing heavy, outdated curtains –and opting for something lighter or even leaving the windows bare if the view outside is good. It also involves incorporating furniture and colors that’ll help to showcase the home in the best possible light. Pieces should be neutral and modern, and shouldn’t be too big, or else they’ll risk overwhelming the space. A good stager will also bring in decor items –new furniture, updated lighting fixtures, lamps, rugs, mirrors, sculptures, candlesticks, and plants to accentuate the home’s best features, and help a potential buyer to envision themselves living in the space –while at the same time taking care not to overwhelm the space with too many things. In the end, good staging is a balancing act –and one that an experienced stager will be familiar with.

Staging a Home for Quick Sale Pinterest

But staging isn’t just used to spruce up lived-in homes; it’s often used when it comes to new-build homes as well. Builders know that staging helps to show prospective buyers how the home can meet and exceed their needs, goals, and desires –and recognize the value of this investment.

In order to get the most out of staging, it’s important for the seller to be able to separate from a personal attachment to the home. This is something that’s often tremendously difficult to do, but it’s a vital part of transitioning from a homeowner to a home seller –and absolutely essential for getting the home into sell-ready condition. It’s vital for the homeowner to regard the property, not as their home, but as a commodity to be sold quickly and for top dollar. This mindset will allow the seller to prioritize the things that need to be done to bring about a favorable sale.

How Much Does House Staging Cost?

So what are the disadvantages to staging?

The only real disadvantages to staging a home for quick sale are the time and money spent on staging costs and the appraisal. But when you consider that the average price reduction for homes in the MLS is approximately $5,000 to $10,000 –substantially more than the cost of staging, the cost-benefit analysis quickly begins to tilt in staging’s favor.

Also, consider the cost of time. How many house payments would be saved if staging resulted in a quick sale? Additionally, in many cases, staging helps the seller to command top-dollar for their home, which means that they can come out ahead in terms of the speed of the sale and the sale price. Home sellers may be reluctant to stage in such a market where homes are selling in days and not months, but the data plainly shows that staged homes sell faster and for more money. In fact, in very hot seller’s markets and in very popular price ranges, staging may even lead to a bidding war among potential buyers. Of course, if you prefer to avoid a bidding war and any resulting appraisal issues, it’s a good idea to run those concerns by your Realtor to see what they recommend.

Staging a Home for Quick Sale Before Living Room
Before Staging - Living Room

The observation that staging can lead to a higher sale value, again, is supported by the National Association of Realtors 2017 Profile of Home Staging. When staging a home, 29% of sellers’ agents reported an increase of 1-5% of the dollar value offered by buyers compared to similar homes. Additionally, 21% of survey respondents stated that staging a home increased the dollar value of the home between 6-10%. In no case did the respondents report that staging a home had a negative impact on the home’s dollar value.

The cost of staging must certainly be considered, but estimating the cost is challenging without seeing the property. There are many factors that influence the price such as the size and condition of the home and whether or not it’s vacant or occupied.

Staging an empty house requires bringing in furniture and accessories which results in furniture rental costs and mover fees. However, occupied homes bring other considerations as well. If the homeowner’s furniture and accessories can be used the price will be reduced, but generally, some items will need to be removed and placed into storage. The cost of removing personal items, moving furniture, cleaning and making needed repairs will also impact the cost; although the homeowner may be willing to do some of the work themselves, therefore lowering the costs.

Staging a Home for Quick Sale After Living Room
After Staging - Living Room

For sellers who may be wondering how to stage a house for sale while living in it, it’s important to note that it is certainly possible –but it can be a bit more challenging. In some cases, the homeowner’s furniture and accessories may be able to be used, but more often than not new pieces may need to be brought in. At the very least, new slipcovers may need to be purchased to spruce up outdated furnishings, and some fresh, new accessories brought in. Personal accessories, souvenirs, and mementos –such as photos, children’s artwork, and similar items should all be removed, and there should be a focus on implementing neutral decor throughout. Remember, the goal is for the potential buyers to envision themselves living there –and that’s something that’s hard to do when there are tokens of the previous owners everywhere. Clutter should be kept to a minimum, baskets can be brought in to house spare items, while extra pieces should be put into storage. Beds should be updated with fresh new duvets, and every attempt should be made at keeping the home in a clean and tidy state. Of course, the extent of work and the number of purchases that are required to bring a seller-occupied home up to scratch will significantly impact the staging price.

Comparing vacant versus occupied prices from recent similar transactions gives a good cost comparison:

  • A vacant 3,000-square-foot home had five rooms staged (the main rooms plus the master bedroom and bath) for a cost of $1,600 plus $195 per month furniture rental.
  • An occupied home, also 3,000 square feet and five rooms staged, cost $625 to stage plus furniture rental of $115 per month.

Of course, the number of rooms that are staged will also have a big impact on cost. Usually, a stager will do the living room, family room, kitchen, master bedroom, master bathroom, and the den or study. Generally, the main level of a home, the master suite, and any large recreational areas are staged as well. Depending on the home’s price point, additional bedrooms may be staged as well, especially if they have attached baths. This is usually done for luxury properties.

At times special features of a property must be included when staging as well. For example, a very large wraparound deck with a gorgeous view may not have its area included in the square footage of the home, but it certainly should be staged to present the property in its most favorable light. The deck may need some new furniture, which would increase the cost of staging a bit.

Because of the unique nature of each individual property, it simply isn’t possible to provide a firm formula for pricing. The best we can do is share numbers based on our experience. Generally speaking, we’ve found the range to be between $500 and $5,000 –or, in some cases, even more depending on the size of the home and the number of rooms staged. The average home will cost $1,200 to $2,000.

Staging costs can be paid in several ways. The home seller can pay, or the Realtor may pay as part of their service. Sometimes the Realtor pays and is then compensated at closing. The National Association of Realtors 2017 Profile of Home Staging states that 25% of the time the costs of staging a home were typically paid by the seller before the home is listed, while 21% of the time the seller’s agent personally offered to stage the home, and 14% of the time the seller’s agents offered a home staging service.

Normally stagers will accept a 50% deposit before work begins with the balance due at the completion of staging. Payment can usually be made by check or debit/credit card. The monthly furniture rental can be paid for by check or by automatic payment via debit/credit card as well. Automatic billing is a popular method for monthly charges. If the seller wishes, they’ll usually have the option to purchase any of the staging items or furniture.

Staging should always be done before listing photos are taken. In today’s world photos are more important than ever –and in many ways are the new first-showing. Photos taken after staging greatly increase the likelihood a home will actually get shown. At this time it’s important for the seller to remember that they are not the homeowner but the seller and must keep the home in its best sellable condition. The stager can help with ideas or routines for maintaining the work that they have done.

Alternatives to full staging include what’s known as soft staging and virtual staging. Each of these has their own sets of pros and cons. Let’s look at them now.

Soft staging is normally done on properties that are vacant. As the name suggests, this type of staging is less involved than full staging and consists of simply adding plants, candles, artwork, and other decorations order to give a home a warmer, less barren feel. When done well, it certainly can help but it’s important to keep in mind that it’s not a substitute for full professional staging. For home staging tips for sellers, be sure to check out this helpful article: Home staging ideas to help you sell your home.

It’s important to note that some items that are lumped under the category of soft staging are actually simply basic tasks that should always be performed prior to staging itself. This generally includes cleaning and ensuring that the home is kept free from clutter. According to the National Association of Realtors’ home staging report, the most common items that agents recommended were decluttering the home (93%), entire home cleaning (89%), carpet cleaning (81%), and removing pets during showings (80%).

Virtual staging is a technique that’s used primarily on vacant properties –and is one idea for staging an empty house. The virtual stager uses photo manipulation software –like Photoshop, to virtually place furniture and decorations in a room. When done by a talented virtual stager, the pictures can make the room look attractive, but more often than not the pictures end up looking artificial. Additionally, there’s another downside of using virtual staging as well –the risk of disappointing a prospective buyer. A potential buyer who was impressed favorably by the virtually staged photos that they saw online, will almost certainly be very disappointed when entering the room and finding it empty.

Staging a Home for Quick Sale Virtual Staging

What to Look for in a Stager

Ok, so you’re thinking of choosing a stager. Naturally, you’ll want to ensure that the one you opt to go with is the right choice –someone with a skill to transform your home into a sell-ready property.

For Realtors, recommending a stager also involves several considerations. A Realtor bringing a stager to the transaction must ensure that they are someone who can work well with the home sellers. Tact and empathy will go a long way to avoid hurt feelings or resentment.

If you’re a seller who will be hiring the stager yourself, you should find someone you can work with comfortably, someone who doesn’t intimidate you –and who’s able to make recommendations tactfully.

In either case, a stager must be able to show impressive before and after photos of their work. These images should clearly demonstrate a stager’s expertise and skill, showing you what they’re capable of, and giving you a good idea about what you can expect when working with them.

You’ll want to choose a stager that is appropriate for your situation. This means that if your home is a median-priced property, you’ll want to avoid choosing someone who specializes in multimillion-dollar properties unless they are really good at median price listings as well. Choose a stager that will accentuate the positive aspects of the home you are listing –not just someone who works primarily with homes that are in a different price bracket than yours.

Your stager should also own their own furniture and accessories –or should be able to source them easily, and should provide the delivery service and movers as well. If your listing ends up being long-term, the stager should also be prepared to update the seasonal elements to keep the property looking current.

Finally, a look at the technicalities. A stager should have a business license with the state that you’re in, carry liability insurance, and should have a certification from a formal staging organization. These organizations include the International Association of Home Staging Professionals, the American Society of Home Stagers and Redesigners, the Real Estate Staging Association, and the Home Staging and ReDesign Association.

In the end, enthusiasm is the final differentiator and is a good indication of someone who loves their job, and who will be a joy to work with. Be sure to look for a stager who’s excited about your project, and who enjoys working with the decor style that the house dictates.

In conclusion, there is little doubt that staging can help a home to sell more quickly and for more money. The only reasons to not consider staging are the time required, cost of staging, or appraisal issues. At the end of the day, your success with staging is largely contingent on the stager that you choose –so make your decision carefully, looking for someone with both skill, and experience working with homes that are similar to yours. In most cases, your Realtor will work with stagers and may even be able to recommend one to you, so be sure to have a discussion with your agent to see if they can recommend someone that they trust.

Additional Staging Resources:

For more information on home sales in Colorado Springs, be sure to get in touch with Springs Homes today. Our agents will work hard to help your home sell as quickly as possible –and for a competitive price.

green-compressor

Easy Steps to Decorate Your House With Color

How to use color in your house

image courtesy: havenly.com

Decorating a new space, or reimagining a fresh new look for a space you’ve lived in for a while, can be an exciting and often daunting project to tackle. One way to quickly and effectively start the process is by selecting a fresh color scheme for your walls, furniture, and decor. By starting with the color story you want throughout, it can make the redesign more organized, less stressful and way more fun to put together.

Finding ways to match or coordinate your paint colors to your decor can go a long way in quickly transforming your space. This is particularly true when you have limited time or energy to put into creating an elaborate design or simply trying to get your home ready to sell. Having a cohesive and coordinated style using color throughout your space can make it look bigger, more put together and effortlessly chic.

Create Your Own Story with Color

decorating your house with colorTo keep it consistent, and also be appealing to a broad range of home buyers for those selling, pick a neutral color and two or three complimentary accents that come in a range of shades you love to build your color story. Neutrals don’t always mean beige, either! Sage green, navy blue and richer earth tones like dark coffee and charcoal can easily take the place of eggshell and or the slate gray that’s been dominating in recent years.

From here, it’s time to decide if you want your walls to be painted in your selected neutral with pops of accent colors in your furniture and decor. Alternatively, you can choose to have your larger pieces like sofas, rugs, and furniture in the neutral color to keep the room grounded, while more vibrant accent colors cover the walls and smaller decor.

This can be a tricky process, even when you have a clear vision of what you want, don’t be afraid to get advice from your Realtor when showing. If you’re short on time or settling into a new home, you can find help online by consulting an interior designer on your plans or looking through home improvement magazines.

Picking a color palette can be overwhelming to begin researching and shopping for, but thankfully there are several ways to get inspiration. If you’re someone who loves color, think of the ones that you want to live with each day and start from there to find a neutral to balance it out.

On the other side of the spectrum, if you’re a less-is-more person, focus on what simple and versatile neutral speaks to you the most. If you’re still at a loss, there are expert guides to interesting neutrals and trending colors online you can look for to get you started.

Build Your Color Palette

Once you’ve settled on the color you want to build your story around, time to have fun rounding out your palette with accents. A tried and true method is picking colors that oppose each other on the color wheel. For navy blue, think of fuchsias, shades of yellow or muted oranges. If you’re someone who wants a less eclectic vibe, select one color that contains a vast range of shades that speak to you, like greens that can go from light sea-foam to dark evergreen and pick different hues that work together.

For a color palette that might focus on different shades of the same color, you can add variety and depth to each room by including different textures and materials. For example, if you went with the green color story and selected hues in a light sage and a deeper forest, look for silk accent pillows, fuzzy throw blankets and textured glass votive candle holders all in different shades in your selected colors.

When looking for decor to based on a more vibrant color story, look for simple shapes in similar textures to create layers of depth without overwhelming the space. Rounded vases for seasonal flowers, oval-shaped trays for the coffee table and everything in smooth-faced materials like glass and acrylic add interest in a cohesive way that keeps the room tied together.

Should You Make it Match? or Not?

Best ways to use color to decorate

image courtesy: havenly.com

Mixing metals and wood tones is tricky no matter what your color story. Stick to one or two different tones, keeping in mind any flooring or paneling already in the space, and make sure they don’t clash with each other or any shades in your selected color palette. Looking at the undertones of each is usually a sure way to make sure they blend. If you have a cool toned color story, try to find cool toned wood stains and metals that compliment, rather than look out of place.

Using color to help create a beautiful home, whether to settle into your new house or appeal to buyers, can quickly transform the space that doesn’t necessarily demand a large budget or ample time for renovations. If you are taking steps to sell your home, this is also a way to get it show-ready and prepped for staging with a project that you can even do yourself in a pinch!

 

Additional Resources:

 

Graphics credits

imag0447

We Buy Houses for Cash! Understanding Wholesale Real Estate

What’s with these “We Buy Houses for Cash” signs?

You’ve no doubt seen those “We Buy Ugly Houses” and “We Buy Houses for Cash” signs planted around medians and near high traffic areas. These are posted by “Wholesale Real Estate” companies.

Wholesale and retail are terms we don’t generally associate with buying and selling houses. These terms are usually reserved for mass-produced, lower cost commodities like clothes, shoes, and cars.

wholesale real estate

Homes, on the other hand, tend to be more unique due to factors like location, landscaping, updates, etc. The sad truth is that some homes just aren’t that special, primarily when they have not been maintained, fallen into disrepair or have been neglected.

Unfortunately, there are homeowners that find themselves in circumstances that don’t allow them to sell their home for what we would call retail price. These are situations where the seller is in crisis, they may have lost a job or developed health issues. Their home has fallen into disrepair and they don’t have the money or ability to make the necessary repairs. In many cases, they are no longer able to make the payments and they are just looking to get out.

This is where the wholesaler comes in. The wholesaler guarantees a fast cash sale for the property at a deeply discounted price. This private cash sale also circumvents issues that would arise from inspections and appraisals. VA and FHA have certain standards and distressed properties usually don’t meet their minimum guidelines.

The wholesaler depends on a number of sources to find these distressed homeowners. Everything from roadside bandit “We Buy Houses for Cash” or the all-appealing “We Buy Ugly Houses” signs that offer fast sales for cash to direct mail and even plain old door knocking in targeted neighborhoods.

We Buy Ugly Houses

Photo by Lynly Bernstein http://lynleyfaith.tumblr.com

How Wholesale Real Estate Works

When a home seller is facing stress on multiple fronts, the promise of a fast cash sale can very appealing. But is it the best option?  Let’s take a look at how wholesaling works in order to understand why it’s different than a retail sale.

Wholesaling is an umbrella term for an entire category of property transactions. The wholesale landscape consists primarily of wholesalers and investors. You can certainly be both an investor and a wholesaler but this is not generally the case.

A “wholesaler” is often someone trying to break into the real estate investing world. This individual generally has more time than money. The established investor, on the other hand, doesn’t have the kind of time to track down wholesale deals. This doesn’t mean they can’t or won’t, it’s just not the highest and best use of their time.

The wholesaler is essentially looking for deals in order to raise capital to fund their own real estate investments. Additionally, as they gain capital and experience, they may also be looking for properties to add to their own rental portfolio.

In its purest form, a wholesaler locates a homeowner looking to get out of their house quickly for cash. They negotiate a price and then execute a contract. The contract is transferable and will generally close quickly in twenty to thirty days.

This window of time gives the wholesaler a chance to find an investor to ultimately purchase the property. Remember, the investor has cash but not the time to find these kinds of deals.

Let’s say the wholesaler finds a property that in good condition would sell for $250,000 (retail). The repairs required to get the retail price would be $50,000.

The wholesaler agrees with the homeowner to buy the property for $175,000. The wholesaler would then take this deal to a couple of different investors. They would most likely end up selling the house for $180,000 to the investor pocketing the additional $5,000.

At this point the wholesaler would assign the contract to the investor, take their money and start searching for their next deal.

Is Wholesale Real Estate Legal?

The short answer is yes, there is nothing illegal about selling your property to another individual, even if it’s at a discounted rate. Things can get complicated and a little shady (think loan fraud) if there is an existing mortgage, especially if the homeowner owes more than the wholesaler is willing to pay.

If there is a mortgage, the homeowner has an agreement with the lender to pay off the loan either by making all of the payments or initiating a payoff at the time of sale or transfer of the property. If there isn’t enough equity in the property, this payoff can’t happen, unless of course the lender agrees to a short sale and depending on the condition of the market, this may be unlikely.

Another obstacle would be a second mortgage or lien. Any creditors that have a lien on the property must be satisfied before conveying clear title. The best candidate for a wholesale transaction is a single owner with a lot of equity, no liens and no way to get to that cash, besides selling the home.

There are certain organizations out there intended to help underwater homeowners avoid foreclosure. The lender doesn’t want to see the property go into foreclosure. Most lenders have programs or at least take part and bigger National programs set up to save troubled homeowners. Here is a list of such programs.

Retail Pricing of Homes

We Buy Houses for Cash

Retail pricing and sales, on the other hand, are much more common. This is what most real estate transactions look like. Home Sellers looking to get the most money possible from the sale of their home, they take the time to declutter, make repairs and even stage the home prior to sale.

These sellers choose Realtors with strong marketing programs, they invest in professional photographs, put together 3D Virtual tours and spread the word that their home is for sale through the MLS system as well as a wide range of online real estate portals. The “We Buy Ugly Houses” signs are replaced with professional real estate signs and full-service marketing.

The distressed home seller could certainly benefit from the same level of service as the retail home seller but there is a multitude of reasons they choose the alternative wholesale route.

Selling your home for top dollar is a major commitment, there are times when personal issues and the stress of just getting by making the thought of enduring the home selling process intolerable. These examples are certainly rare but common enough to explain the existence and success of wholesaling.

At the end of the day, wholesaling is just an alternative method of executing a real estate transaction. The ultimate goal is usually to rehab the property and of course, end up selling it at a retail price.

If you are considering using a wholesaler to sell your property, you owe it to yourself to at least talk to an established Realtor. The best course of action may end up being the wholesale route but until you exhaust all of your retail options, you may be giving away the farm.

 

Additional Resources:
Pros and Cons of We Buy Houses Flipping Companies-Bill Gassett
We Will Buy Your House For Cash, Close in Two Weeks- Too Good To Be True?-Kevin Vitali
What Does It Mean When A Home Is Listed As A Short Sale?-Paul Sian
Why Do Short Sales Take Longer Than a Traditional Real Estate Sale?-Karen Highland

homeowners insurance refund check

Getting Your Homeowner’s Insurance Refund

No one likes to leave money on the table at the end of a real estate transaction. During the sale process, home sellers can get so focused on the big items like purchase price, inspection items and closing costs they miss the smaller items that can actually enhance their bottom line as well.

One of the most overlooked items in this category is homeowners insurance. This is because so few homeowners understand how homeowners insurance works and more importantly what happens to the policy when they sell their home.

If you had a mortgage on your home, you also had a homeowners insurance policy that would have been required by your lender. Additionally, unless you made a substantial down payment, more than 20%, your mortgage lender would have paid your insurance and taxes through an escrow fund they set up.

If you remember when you purchased the property, there was a category of closing costs referred to as “Prepaids”. The first year of Property Insurance was included in this category.

Each month when you made your payment a small portion went towards the next year’s homeowners insurance policy, that money was deposited into the escrow account that your lender maintained. Annually when these expenses came due, your lender paid them for you.

There are essentially two categories of insurance monies. The first is what you’ve paid into your current years escrow account. After the sale of your home, your lender should automatically mail you a refund check for the monies still sitting in your escrow account. That check usually arrives within 3-6 weeks of closing.

The second type of money is what you have already prepaid. The insurance company already has this money. When you sell your home, there will most likely be a surplus of funds from months you won’t own the house.This surplus is what you are looking to get back from the insurance company.

Example, if your homeowners policy begins every November 1st, then your annual premium is paid at that time, for the upcoming 12-months. If you sell your home six months later, you have only used six months worth of your policy. Since you have already paid for the entire year, a refund is now due for the unused portion.

In order to get this money, you are going to need to actually cancel the Homeowner’s Insurance policy. If you do not actually cancel the policy, then the premium already paid will not be refunded.

    1. Determine your mortgage anniversary date-This is generally your closing date. Find your original closing documents. If you can’t find your closing documents, your Realtor can help you find these documents as well as Supply you with your closing date.
    2. Check your escrow account– Do this to see how much you paid your insurance company check your statement or online portal for your account.
    3. Calculate the unused portion of your policy based on your closing date-You do this by taking the total policy amount paid (#2) and dividing it by 365 days, this will give you your per day policy rate. Now add up them remaining days in the year after your closing date. Multiply this number by your per day policy rate
    4. Contact your insurance provider– To cancel policy and initiate the cancellation and refund
    5. Keep your Personal Property Covered-Don’t forget to make sure you have some kind policy in place to cover your personal property.

The insurance company has to be notified in order to cancel the policy. Once you do that, they have to refund the portion of the year’s policy which you did not use.

You should call your insurance Agent or Carrier’s Customer service line. Each company handles cancellations differently. Some might ask you to sign a document, formally indicating the desire to stop coverage while others might want you to write a letter stating your intent.

While you’re on the phone, it’s also a good idea to discuss coverage options for your personal property during the moving process. Unless you have a specific policy in place, once the homeowners policy goes away, so does the coverage on your personal property. Moving and storing stuff often leads to unexpected damages, so it’s best to have some type of coverage in place to protect your property.

If you have any other questions, feel free to give me a call.

firstimpression

Putting Your Home on the Market: Making a Great First Impression

Our Springs Homes agents work with a lot of Home Buyers and subsequently, show a lot of properties. This experience makes them an invaluable resource, especially when it comes to advising Home Sellers on how Buyers think, what they see, how they react and how you can make a great first impression when they tour your home for the first time. Especially when if you’re considering putting your home on the market.

We asked a couple of our agents to share something that Home Sellers often overlook or forget to take care of prior to allowing their home to be shown. In other words, what turns off potential Home Buyers during the critical first impression of the home?

Pet Evidence

Nicole Happel:
One detail Sellers often overlook is the importance of removing pet evidence before a showing. Colorado Springs is known for being a dog-friendly city, so most folks here appreciate fellow pet owners. But when those folks are buying a home they do NOT appreciate your dog beds covered in fur, dog slobber on your sliding glass door, claw scratches on your hardwood floors, toys and food bowls in the middle of the kitchen, and especially doodies in your yard (however small).

When a Buyer walks into a home that screams DOG they are pretty grossed out. And then they wonder how much cleaning will be needed in order to make the home sanitary and livable according to their standards.

It seems this culture of “accept our pets” transcends into all price ranges too. I’ve seen some high-end homes which reek of dirty dog. And Buyers are not only turned off by your home, but they begin to question me as to why I would even consider showing them this home. It’s embarrassing to walk into a “dog overload” situation having not seen it coming. And of course, sometimes this stuff isn’t obvious in the online pictures we see prior to showing.

I know it’s a hassle as Sellers, but dog owners have to stay on top of such things while selling. If you don’t, it just might cost you that one solid Buyer. Just sayin!

 

Don’t Slam the Door on a Sale

Jennifer Boylan:
This one seems really obvious and simple, but I’m constantly amazed when a Home Seller completely ignores the front door and entry to the home.

When I walk up to a house with a nasty door or entry with Home Buyers in tow, I say “I hope this isn’t foreshadowing”. A nasty entry and doorway puts the prospective Buyers on alert. It’s like from that point forward they’re looking for problems.

  • The solutions are really simple but require a little attention and time:
  • If the front door is chipped, peeling or faded, paint it.
  • If the doorbell is broken and/or has a hole thru the button, replace it.
  • Check to make sure all glass is clean
  • Repair any broken glass or shutters
  • Replace or repair torn or worn-out screens. Ace True Value Hardware stores here in Colorado Springs make this really easy.
  • Make sure the path to the door is clear; no dirt, trash, toys, newspapers or other obstacles.
  • In the wintertime, make sure the sidewalk and entry are shoveled and clear of snow and ice
  • Add some plants, even if they’re fake. The Buyers usually don’t notice if they are real or artificial and if they do, it still shows that you care.

If you make the entry to the property appealing, you’ve done your best to start out on the right foot. This is just a smart move regardless of what condition the real estate market is in.

 

You Never Get a Second Chance

Brooke Mitchell:

One of the biggest things homeowners overlook when it’s time to sell… and I know it sounds cliché… is curb appeal. I firmly believe that “You never get a second chance to make a first impression!” I’m going to address curb appeal, and a bit more.

Dead or overgrown grass & shrubbery looks like a lot of work to first-time homeowners, so spruce up that front yard. Clean weeds out of rock & mulch beds.

  • According to a variety of experts, front doors tend to yield around 100% return on investment, one of the highest percentages for a minor home improvement. Imagine if you didn’t even need to replace it, but merely give a fresh coat of paint. Pick a neutral or trendy color.
  • Clean windows and glass doors are also in this curb appeal category. It makes your home feel fresh from the outside and helps you enjoy the sunshine while inside! I can’t believe how inexpensive a good thorough window cleaning can be. Once inside (I know this extends beyond curb appeal, but work with me here), Buyers will see the details that you have grown accustomed to while enjoying your home.
  • Worn flooring or carpet that needs to be stretched is distracting to the Home Buyer. First of all, we understand you live here, and it’s a royal pain to move your furniture out, but in the end, it will be worth it. Buyers will discount your home or overestimate the cost of this repair, so it’s better not to give them an opportunity to object. Replace the flooring or stretch the carpet.
  • Smells… pee-ew! When we sold our second home, we’d just had our first child. Sadly, we had grown immune to the grotesque diaper genie smell. Once it was pointed out in a feedback form we got it OUT of the house. Other smells can turn a Buyer off as well. You may have a litter box, but non-pet-owners can smell that ammonia scent right away. Buyers automatically assume it’s in the carpet, pad, sub-floor, floor joist, the room below… okay, I’m kidding, but seriously consider replacing flooring. Again if it’s something you live with all the time, you may not notice.
  • Pet hair and messes. It’s hard for pet owners to not become unaware of the pet hair in their lives. But again for Buyers who don’t own pets or those with allergies, this is an issue. Get a complete professional cleaning, and maybe put Fido in the kennel the first week you have the house on the market. Side note – the barking dog, even safely kenneled in garage or basement bedroom makes some people very nervous and on-edge, so they don’t have a warm feeling when viewing your home. Some people are flat-out afraid of dogs, no matter how small or far away they are.
  • It’s nice if you can “stage” your home. You don’t need a professional; just tidy up, thin out closets, slim down on excessive family photos and personal (religious, political, hunting) décor.

When you list your house, as a Seller, be Switzerland… neutral, lacking strong opinions displayed around your home. Based on our experience, we have far more detailed help that we are happy to share when you’re ready to list. Let us know how we can help!!

 

Smell Ya Later!

Maggie Turner:

Having one answer to this question is tricky. I’d say for first impressions, smells are the most important thing that Home Sellers can overlook. If a Buyer walks into a home and smells something bad, it’s an immediate turn-off. Bad smells create red flags and cause concern for lack of cleanliness, maintenance and overall care of the home. If a Buyer walks into a warm and inviting scent, it’s a pretty good sign that the home is cared for.

I was recently showing homes to an experienced and savvy Home Buyer. We went into a great property and I thought for sure this is “it”. The Home Sellers had left the trash in the kitchen trash can a little too long. There was an odor of decomposing something emanating from the can, it was pretty bad. The Buyer wouldn’t even consider the home and we left immediately. As we continued to look at other less ideal homes, I kept trying to bring her back around to what she now referred to as the “Stinky House”, but there was no interest. I kept thinking to myself, “whatever was stinking up the kitchen just cost the Home Sellers a sale”.

Oftentimes we get really used to smells in our day to day environment. If you question if your home has offending odors, an easy solution is to ask a friend to come over, walk through the home and be honest with you about what they smell in the home.

 

The Big 3-D’s

Kelly Raffelli

Decluttering, De-personalizing and Deep cleaning are the big 3-D’s when getting ready to put a house on the market. A Seller should give potential Buyers the opportunity to see a blank canvas. I recently was showing a house to a client and the downstairs family room was so entrenched with memorabilia and family photos, the entire conversation while we were down there was about that family and all of their stuff. That is NOT what you want the Buyer to be focused on. You want a Buyer to walk in and picture their own family pictures, decor, and life happening in that family room.

It can be hard to declutter and de-personalize, but the more you do you create an opportunity for the Buyer to “paint their lives” on the blank canvas and see themselves living in the home. Sellers don’t want Buyers distracted when they arrive for a showing. They want them focused on the question, “is this the right home for me?”

Deep cleaning is equally important and relatively straightforward. Buyers need to see the home in it’s very best condition. Sellers have to bring their “A Game” when presenting their house to potential Buyers. A deep clean and some light touch-up paint and other small repairs will go a long way to getting your home sold quickly and for the highest dollar.

Don’t Forget the Garage

Joe Boylan
For me, the garage almost always tells the truth. At least when it comes to getting an idea of how the home has been maintained. If The garage is a total mess, packed to the ceiling with boxes and junk, I always figure that the well-staged interior is just a facade. Now, if the garage is neat clean and well organized I always assume (right or wrong) that the house has been well maintained. If this is not the case, we find out at the inspection.

Take the time to clean out your garage, it’s worth the price of a storage space for the time your home will be on the market. Matt Casady from STOR-N-LOCK has some great suggestions about how self-storage services like his can be a huge help.

Most storage units in Colorado Springs can be rented on a month-to-month basis so you can use it for as long or short as you need without being locked into a contract which makes it a great option as a Home Seller looking for a short-term solution. Plus, many local facilities offer move-in specials like one-month free (especially in the fall and winter when they’re less busy) so using the storage space is even cheaper upfront.

Storage units come in a wide variety of sizes with a variety of features so you can store nearly anything you need to there. If you’re just looking to tidy up your garage by getting rid of boxes or junk, a 5’x10’ or 10’x10’ storage unit would be sufficient. If you’re looking to remove clutter from around your whole home by removing excess furniture from multiple rooms, then you may need a larger unit like a 10’x20’ or 10’x30’ unit.

Plan what you’re going to be storing and how long you plan to store it before selecting your storage unit. For example, if you’re selling your home during moderate weather months like in the spring and would only need the storage unit at that time, then a non-climate controlled unit would probably work just fine. However, if you’re selling in the winter and the items you’re storing are more sensitive to temperature fluctuations like electronics or family heirlooms, then a storage space that is climate controlled/heated would be worth the extra few dollars a month.

If you know you’ll be keeping your stuff in storage more long-term while you move and get situated in your new home self-storage can be a great option as well. Many local facilities offer discounts to customers who pay 6-months or 12-months upfront so if you know you’ll be storing for a while that’s a great way to cut down on the storage costs.

Because of the wide variety of storage unit sizes and optional amenities (like climate control), there’s a storage space to fit really any need you have during your selling and moving process.

Just make sure your garage looks like a maintenance ninja lives in the house.

No matter what the condition of the market, there is always competition for the best Buyers.

Don’t fall into the trap of assuming everything sells for top dollar in a Seller’s market. There is always another house and more deals fall out in a hot Seller’s market than in a normal market. It’s in a Seller’s best interest to sell to the most motivated, best-qualified Buyer. One of the best ways to motivate a Buyer is by impressing them every time they see the house.

We hope you have found this information useful. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact any of our agents.

 

Additional Resources:

If there is one thing Realtors love to talk about it’s selling houses and what that takes. Here is some more great information on this subject from some of the best real estate bloggers around the internet.

shouldisellorrentmyhouse

Should I Sell or Rent my House?: Weighing your Options

You are a homeowner and for whatever reason, it’s time to move on. Maybe you’ve outgrown your house, perhaps there’s a new job waiting in another location or you’re just ready to move to a more appealing home in a different neighborhood. No matter what the reason, you are no doubt struggling with the question, should I rent or sell my house?

This decision often comes down to where you are in life and what your long terms goals are. If you don’t have a lot of cash reserves or investments, you might need the proceeds from the sale of your existing home to go towards the down payment on a new home. If on the other hand, you’re looking for investments, managing a rental property might be a great option for you.

Deciding Whether to Sell or Rent

There are a lot of different factors to consider before jumping into the world of rental property investing. Some of them are financial, while others have to do with the demands this type of investment can make upon your time and lifestyle.

Let’s take a look at the major considerations that will affect your decision.

Start with the money

Cash flow should be the primary focus when considering the financial side of the rental business. Just like it sounds this term describes how cash flows in and out of your accounts.

Cash can flow positive or negative, but for most people, positive cash flow from your rental property will be the goal.

There are rare exceptions to this principle, these exceptions usually involve taking losses for tax purposes, certainly not something most people are looking for.

The other reason you might consider taking the negative cash flow would be if you were pretty far into a 15-year loan. You would do this in order to pay off the house and own it free and clear.

Establishing Cash Flow

In order to establish cash flow, you’re going to have to do some estimating of both income and expenses. It’s important to be realistic about these numbers. When I work with a new property owner in our property management company, I tend to lean on the pessimistic side of these numbers.

If the property leases for more money and the expenses end up being less, our clients are pleasantly surprised.Click To Tweet

If the property leases for more money and the expenses end up being less, our clients are pleasantly surprised. If there is some kind of negative trend in the market, having forecasted from the worst case scenario means they’re less likely to get hurt. I suggest you do the same when making your estimations.

Your Property’s Income

Rental property income can come from a number of different sources. Some landlords offer various services and options to tenants for a fee. Services like landscape maintenance, cleaning and various insurance policies for late rent. It’s a good idea for the new landlord to keep it simple, this means using only the rent payment when calculating income.

Establishing Rental Rate

The first thing you need to establish is how much you can realistically lease your property for. You want to be realistic because you want the property to lease quickly, no matter what the condition of the rental market. Keeping it leased goes hand in hand with keeping the cash flow positive.

You have several options when it comes to pricing.

  1. There are free valuation websites like Zillow where you can get a ballpark idea of what your home could lease for. This gives you a starting point, but ultimately you’re going to want to do detailed research to get a more accurate estimation.
  2. You could ask a Realtor to do a rental analysis. They will most likely use data from the MLS (Multiple Listing System), this is a good option because the data is generally accurate and verified.
  3. Another option would be to do your own research by combing through sites that feature rental properties in your neighborhood. You can talk to neighbors in order to see what they know about rental prices as well as calling any “For Rent” signs to see what people are asking.
  4. Finally, you might use a property management company to manage the property. One of the primary services they provide will be pricing. Since they manage multiple properties and will usually have MLS access, their price is usually the most realistic.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to get the pricing right. Tenants tend to move in waves, this means they usually start looking 30 to 45 days prior to when they want to occupy. Additionally, they probably need to give notice to their current landlord. If you take the first couple of weeks testing your price, you may find your rental sitting vacant for a couple of months. This mistake will kill your cash flow.

It is important to be methodical about your pricing and please don’t use the ”This is how much I need to get method”. This method consists of the homeowner looking at their payment and adding a little profit in order to determine the rental rate. This doesn’t work because the market doesn’t care how much your payment is or how much profit you want.

Renters will be looking at everything available on the market. If your rental is overpriced they will more than likely politely pass leaving you clueless as to why they didn’t lease it. So, before you do anything else establish a fair market rental value for your property.

Your Property’s Expenses

Once you establish the fair market rental value for your property you can start to apply debits to that number in order to see if the cash flow will be positive. here is a list of expenses you’re going to want to use in order to figure out if this is going to work.

  • Mortgage: Add up your principal, interest, property taxes and insurance (landlord policy).
  • Taxes: You will need to pay federal income taxes on the net income (rent plus other money minus expenses) you receive from your rental property each year.
    • Each year when you file your tax return, you will add your net rental income to your income for the year, such as salary income from a job, interest on savings, and investment income.
    • Property Taxes were covered above in the Mortgage section. If you, not your lender make your own tax payments, you can add them here.
    • Owning a rental property allows you to make several tax deductions for things like interest and depreciation.
  • Operating expenses: This is a broad category
    • Advertising – Websites, Print, Social Media
    • Travel – Driving back and forth to the property
    • Cleaning and maintenance
    • Legal fees – Documents (leases, disclosures, etc.)
    • Credit and background checks
  • HOA Fees: If you live in a neighborhood that has an association you’re going to want to pay those fees yourself. Since late payments of HOA fees can bring serious consequences and fines, you don’t want to leave this one to the tenants. Having said this, you may want to roll the HOA cost into the rental rate.
  • Management fees: if you choose to use a property manager you will need to calculate their monthly fee along with any other additional fees into your expenses total. Using a property manager can eliminate other expenses along with a significant amount of time and hassle. if you are the least bit squeamish about dealing with tenants you owe it to yourself to talk to a property manager.
  • Commissions: if you or your property manager are putting the property into the MLS system for Realtors to show and help you lease, you’ll need to offer a commission which varies from area to area.

Once you’ve tallied all of your expenses and compared against the potential income you’ll receive from the property, you’ll have a better sense of whether or not renting versus selling is a good idea.

Your Time and Effort

In addition to the financial aspects, you should consider the effect managing rental properties will have on your personal life.

If you’re going to self-manage your rental property, you will need to handle the following:

  1. Advertising – The internet makes this a lot simpler than it used to be. You’ll still need to prepare ads, take photos, compile house details and post all of this information.
  2. Answering calls – No matter how automated you try to make the leasing process, tenants still want to talk to a human. They have questions and frankly, want to get a feel for what kind of person you are.
  3. Scheduling showings – Plan on showing the property at all times, even on evenings and weekends. People with 9 to 5 jobs are going to request this. In our experience, if someone is really looking for a house to rent they will carve out time during the day.
  4. Showing the property – This can actually be a lot of fun and it’s good to get to know your prospective tenants. One important word of warning don’t be wooed by their personality, you need to be objective and make your decision on the application and the data you get from that exercise. In other words, put a lot of weight on the tenant’s credit score, background check and references.
  5. Processing the application
    1. Pulling credit
    2. Checking background
    3. Calling References (previous landlords, employment & personal references)
  6. Preparing a lease – You can find a boilerplate lease online, but an even better idea is to contact a local real estate attorney and pay for a copy of their lease. Remember, every market is different and a local real estate attorney will most likely have a lease that takes into account aspects of your local market.
  7. Documenting the property condition – This is important because when your tenant moves out you need to be able to prove any damage claims you make against them prior to deducting any monies from their deposit. You want to avoid any opportunities for subjective opinions about property conditions and damages.
  8. Emergency Phone Calls – You should offer your tenants a way to reach you at anytime day or night in case of emergencies. To minimize these calls, it is a good idea to explain to the tenant who to call in case of certain types of emergencies. For example, in most cases, a gas leak should elicit a call directly to the gas company instead of the property manager.
  9. Ongoing maintenance- You’re going to want to make sure the property is regularly maintained. This means winterizing and de-winterizing sprinklers, cleaning and servicing the furnace and making sure smoke detectors and CO2 detectors are in proper working order. These items are important because carbon monoxide is so dangerous and landlords own much of a liability around it.
  10. Performing regular property inspections – Even the best tenants lose sight sometimes of the fact that this is your house. Regular inspections are necessary for a number of reasons:
    • Making sure all occupants are on the lease
    • Checking for unapproved pets
    • Verifying there are no illegal activities taking place
    • Checking for things like smokers in a non-smoking property
  11. Collecting Rent – This includes dealing with late and or unpaid rents.
  12. Evictions – The possibility of having to serve and process an eviction
  13. Preparing a property to release – At the end of the lease term, the property needs to be returned to a condition where it is ready to move into by another tenant. This can include:
    • Carpet cleaning
    • General cleaning throughout
    • Patch and paint of walls
    • Other maintenance items in the property
    • Rekeying of all locks
    • General landscape maintenance

Some homeowners have no problem with performing any of these items. But oftentimes, it is very time-consuming to find the right vendors and schedule all of the work to be completed in a timely and cost-effective manner. A property manager will handle all of this for the homeowner and this is one of the big benefits of using a property manager.

Other important reasons you might lease

You might consider renting your property if you have a desire to return to the area. Here in Colorado Springs, we often see military families that plan on returning to the area at retirement or when they’re through with their military service. For this reason, they will decide to put their home into a property management program or in some cases, manage themselves from a distance. The upside is that when they return they know exactly where they’re going to live. Additionally, pricing fluctuations don’t affect them as they don’t have to buy back into the market at a higher rate.

Another good reason to rent your home is the possibility of catching a rising equity tide. During the latest recession, we used a term referring to some of our homeowners as “accidental landlords”. These were people that were unable to sell their homes without writing a check and were not willing to walk away or go through the short sale process. These people put their homes up for rent and decided to weather the storm. Fast forward to the latest real estate boom, and many of these people have sold their homes at a tidy profit.

Some people have a genuine desire to own property and be a landlord. Every now and again you meet someone who just loves owning a lot of property and getting to know their tenants. They really don’t mind the hassles involved and always seem to be on the run and energized by what they do. Yes, these people exist but are rare.

The Upsides of Selling

You’re Done

Selling your home and walking away with a profit is a great feeling, especially in a seller’s market. Doing so can give you the flexibility to take advantage of other opportunities.

This money can potentially be a substantial amount of money which you might use this as a down payment on your next property. Many people love the prospect and the excitement of starting over in a new home.

Be aware that in an extremely hot seller’s market you will need to be able to find someplace to move to. Talk to anyone trying to buy in a hot market and you will soon learn about the stress and disappointment of navigating this type of market. This is a problem you don’t want to discover after your house is under contract.

Tax-free profit

If you’ve lived in your home for at least 2 out of the last 5 years prior to the sale, you may be eligible for an exclusion on any capital gains tax up to $250,000. If you are married and file jointly this amount doubles to $500,000 (2017). You’re not going to find a lot of other Investments that give you this kind of break.

Free Time

Handling a rental property as a homeowner takes a fair amount of time and effort. Re-read the section on Time and Effort and ask yourself if you are really ready to handle all of those responsibilities. Using a property management company alleviates most of these responsibilities, but selling your property alleviates all of the responsibilities once and for all.

Escaping Maintenance and Repairs

If your home is a maintenance nightmare, or in need of repairs, renting it out is probably a bad idea. The tenant will certainly expect the condition to be up to a livable standard. Repair requests will create a constant hassle and eat into your bottom line.

With a home in need of numerous repairs or remodeling, selling is most likely the best option. This allows you to deal with any repairs and deferred maintenance in one fell swoop, after the inspection and prior to closing. Once you negotiate those items, the maintenance and repair headaches are over.

Conclusion

This list will certainly get you thinking about the core issues that surround selling versus renting. Timing, lifestyle, income and a long list of other factors go into the decision to be a home seller or a landlord. This information should go a long way to get you pointed in the right direction.

As always, if you have any questions or help to get started selling or renting out your home, feel free to give me a call.

Additional Resources

Here are some helpful resources I used while putting this article together:

Converting Your Home To A Rental Property-Luke Skar

Should I Rent or Sell my House-Bill Gassett

Should I Sell or Rent My Home? Factors to Consider-Anita Clark

Pros and Cons to Selling a Tenant Occupied Property-Michelle Gibson

 

 

closing

Preparing for Your Closing – Checklist

You are getting ready to close on your house, but you realize that you may not be ready. Use this handy checklist to get all of your items ready for closing.

✓ Loan Payoff Information

If you have not already provided this information to your agent, our office will contact you regarding loan information. We will need the loan company, account number and the last 4 digits of your social security number(s).

✓ Prepare for the Home Inspection

The inspection is important for a number of reasons. The buyer will actually spend more time in the home during the inspection than they did during the actual showings. Please have your home in great condition for the inspection. Poorly staged or messy homes can quickly create buyer’s remorse.

✓ Inspection Items

In general, repair requests generated from the inspection will need to be done by a licensed contractor. We will assist in arranging contractors to repair the items.

✓ Receipts

Provide copies of all receipts at least 48 hours prior to the walkthrough to your agent.

✓ Prepare for the Appraisal

Your agent will arrange to meet the Appraiser at your home. Please leave the house in showing condition for the appraiser.

✓ Cancel Homeowner’s Insurance Policy

Please cancel effective the day after closing.

✓ Disconnect Utilities

Contact utility companies and arrange for transfer of service. Most companies will ask for the buyer’s name.

✓ Organize manuals

instructions, warranties etc. for the purchaser.

✓ Funds Notification

Let your agent know how you would like your funds.

✓ School records

Arrange to have the school records transferred to your child’s new school district and/or daycare.

✓ Veterinarian records

Arrange to transfer records to your new vet.

✓ Change Address

File a change of address. This can be done online at www.moversguide.usps.com

✓ Double Check House

Decide if you will keep your plants or give them away. Remember that plants cannot be loaded with your household goods.

✓ Remove Hazardous Wastes

Dispose of flammable, corrosive and poisons.

✓ Walk Through

Final Walk Through with Listing Agent.

✓ Confirm Closing

Check with your agent for date, time and location of closing.

✓ Photo ID

Bring valid Photo Id-Driver’s license or Passport is preferred.

✓ Keys and Garage Door Openers

Bring all keys, the garage door openers to closing.

Please do not leave items in the house you do not want or you do not know what to do with.

showings

Preparing for Showings – Checklist

Because first impressions are so important, it is essential that your home is in “show-ready” condition for each and every showing. Although it can be daunting at first, if you use this quick and easy checklist, you will have your home sparkling in no time. To make it even easier, get your family involved. Assign some of these tasks to other family members to do each morning so that you are prepared for any last minute showing.
Here is your checklist to run through before every showing:

✓ Open drapes, shades, blinds

✓ Turn on lights to make your home look bright and cheerful.

✓ Pick up shoes, toys and any other items that might be scattered around.

✓ Put any dirty dishes in the dishwasher and close it.

✓ Empty all trash.

✓ Wipe down all counter tops and tables.

✓ Make all beds.

✓ Run the vacuum.

✓ Put away all clothes.

✓ Make sure all dirty clothes are out of sight.

✓ Make sure rooms smell good, spray a deodorizer if necessary.

✓ Make sure any medications are out of sight.

✓ Turn oven on to 250 degrees. Put a small amount of vanilla extract on a piece of foil into the oven. This will simulate the smell of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. Yummy!

✓ Turn off all televisions. You can play soft music at a low volume in the background only.

✓ Make sure all papers, mail, bills and other confidential materials are out of sight.

✓ Secure any jewelry, cash or other valuables.

✓ Adjust the temperature; make sure your home is warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

Archives

Homes for Sale in Colorado Springs, Colorado Springs Real Estate

Phone Number:

719.388.4000

Address:

Springs Homes
703 N. Tejon St. Suite E
Colorado Springs, CO 80903

Meet Springs Homes

There is nothing average about Springs Homes. Everything we do crackles with intention and intensity, because we believe that strategy always wins when employed by confident, knowledgeable and trustworthy agents.

We list and sell homes across the entire Pikes Peak region. Additionally, Springs Homes offers property management services. We work with a select few home builders in order to provide our clients with new construction options as well as resale opportunities.

Subscribe to our Quarterly Market Reports

Contact Us

We’ll get back to you as soon as possible